Chinese icebreaker gets stuck on way to rescue ship of 70 tourists

An icebreaker sent to rescue a ship of tourists stuck in Antarctica on Christmas Day is trapped en-route to the liner.

Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon came within six and a half nautical miles of the Akademic Shokalskiy when it got stuck in ice.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority official told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation: "It has encountered heavy ice and it's not safe for them to continue to the Russian vessel for their own safety.

"We'll be looking at other options today (Saturday)."

Snow Dragon captain Wang Jianzhong told the Xinhua news agency: "Since the thick ice exceeds the ship's icebreaking capabilities and an upcoming cyclone will exacerbate icy conditions, we have to temporarily stall the ship."

Scientists, explorers and tourists are onboard the stranded Russian liner MV Akademik Shokalskiy and were forced to spend Christmas Day waiting to be rescued when the vessel became trapped in ice.

It was stranded 1,500 nautical miles south of Tasmania and two days away from the nearest ship with ice-breaking abilities.

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Chinese icebreaker gets stuck on way to rescue ship of 70 tourists

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